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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hello blog.  It's been a while.  After an inquiry from a friend about what was going on, I thought I'd bring you up to date on what I've been doing since February 2012.  My hope is to eventually get back on here and make somewhat regular entries again.

I decided to do some part-time work for my husband's company back in January, 2012.  Mainly marketing-oriented projects - working on his website, Facebook pages and print materials and staging properties that are on the market for sale.  Also, my son was finishing high school online and he wrapped up high school early - in April, 2012.  So, I ramped up work since high school was over, P was admitted to college and I felt like I could breathe a little on the "child educational" front.

Early this summer, my husband's company began purchasing a few properties to fix and flip.  This little project has morphed into another "pseudo-careeer" and one that I am getting a lot of personal satisfaction from.

One quick discovery...painting outdated brass fixtures!  One of the renovation houses was filled with brass fixtures.  The dining room fixture was in great condition and was a very large traditional fixture that I hated to toss.  I decided to paint it a dark bronze.  For two cans of spray paint (about $8) - the fixture was transformed.

I ended up using this fixture in the kitchen breakfast area and found another fixture for the dining room for $15 from a salvage place. (Another new discovery for me!) 
                                                           Breakfast Area (Eat-In Kitchen)
                                                        $15 salvage find for Dining Room

I also found bathroom cabinets in a salvage store including the granite tops for about $300.  The quote from the cabinet company was $1500.
                                         $300 white cabinet with "marble" look granite top
                                                         Another View of Staged Bath
In the Kitchen - we saved a TON of money by only replacing the cabinet doors.  The kitchen had dark cabs and teal and rose wallpaper.  Here is finished kitchen with cabinets painted white, new doors, granite and fixtures.  And of yeah....I painted the brass fixture over the island too!

I hope to be better organized in keeping my "before" and "afters" on projects going forward.  Working on a beach cottage now which is a renovation and decorating opportunity.  It will be sold furnished.  I have a lot of creative ideas coming about re-working some existing furniture that is currently in the cottage and have found a lot of ideas on Pinterest to incorporate.  Also working on a 1950's era house in our neighborhood that is a total gut job.  Having fun planning it now!

Thanks for inspiring me to keep writing "DP!"

Looking forward to sharing more projects soon!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

De-Clutter & Make Some Bucks

2011 was a year of cleaning house....literally and figuratively!  Since leaving my incredibly stressful mortgage career, I needed to decompress and clear my mental clutter...a process that took longer than expected.  When I left work in November 2010, I rolled right into the chaos of the holidays.  Once the holidays were over and I really could relax into my new role, I wanted to find some ways to simplify my life. 

Being a lifelong sales person, I also wanted to contribute financially to my family "team."  I took stock of the things I no longer needed (work clothes) or things that didn't fit my current lifestyle (silver pieces, china) and decided to make some money from things I was no longer using or to donate them so someone else could benefit.

I cleaned out my closet and sold anything with a "label" on EBay.  EBay occasionally allows you to list items for free and I began watching for the time periods when I could take advantage of the free listing service.  I made a "sell" box, "toss" box and a "donate" box and set forth with emptying out my closet.  The donate box left my house immediately so I didn't have time for second thoughts!  The same with the toss box....gone!  The sell box was relocated to my guest room closet and I added priority mailing supplies for easy packaging.  I photographed all of the items and when the time was right for cheaper EBay selling, I began listing the items taking care to write a really good description and putting as much detail in as possible.  My teen aged son also had many things he had outgrown and there is a real market for nicer kids clothing so I sold a few of his things too.  I easily bought groceries for one week out of every month with my sales. 

Next...I evaluated my china cabinet.  It really bothered me that I have rarely or never used most of the things in it.  I had a set of china I was given at 18 that was never used plus wedding and holiday china and silver serving pieces that I occasionally polished and used once a year.  We also had untold amounts of crystal - again - never or rarely used.  I contacted Replacements in Greensboro NC and got an analysis of the value of my items.  I decided it was time to let go of the china I had never used from my 18th birthday and the silver.  Since I live close to Greensboro, I made an appointment and took my items in and left with $700.  I was thrilled!  I decided to keep my crystal because they couldn't give me much for it ($2 or so a stem) but I came home and cleaned out my butler's pantry glass cabinet and vowed to start using the crystal wine glasses.  Now I always use them...and it is a treat.

The last "clean out for money" project I completed was a re-evaluation of my jewelry.  I only wear my wedding ring and mainly silver jewelry (earrings and occasional necklace or bracelet) these days.  I organized all of my earrings into hanging bags with pouches so I could see what I had.  After seeing the ridiculous amount, I have not purchased one pair since! Next, I gathered up the old, tangled gold bracelets, necklaces, high school rings, and earrings and shopped them around to get an idea of value.  I finally decided to ship mine to an online company and was offered $800 for the lot. 

The money was great, but the feeling of accomplishment was better.  After my son goes to college, I have more clean out plans.  I want to simplify even more and enjoy life and not the stuff.  Some future plans include organizing closets and photos.  If I don't use or enjoy something, why hang on to it? 

I would love to hear your tips for organization...and Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Own Road: Flowers and Dots baby shower - FREE printables!

My Own Road: Flowers and Dots baby shower - FREE printables!

Tons of great ideas on this blog!

Cottage Hill: Dog Silhouette Pillow

Cottage Hill: Dog Silhouette Pillow

TGIF (Truly Great and Inexpensive Food): Super Bowl Edition

Want to make a quick Super Bowl Appetizer?
Want to be able to use the same ingredients to make a hot or cold version?

Quick & Easy & Lowfat "Mexican" Bean Dip
One 8 oz. can fat free refried beans (yes...fat cannot tell the difference!)
1/2 of one packet of taco seasoning
One 8 oz. container of low fat sour cream
Low fat shredded cheese of your preference & quantity - I use cheddar and jack blend
Salsa- few tablespoons of your favorite

Start by layering refried beans on a platter in a circular pattern...
Mix 1/2 packet of taco seasoning with sour cream and layer over beans...

Top with shredded cheese and a little salsa...chill for 30 minutes or before serving.
In warm weather months, replace salsa with halved grape tomatoes, finely diced scallions and chopped olives and/or chiles....whatever fresh ingredients you like!

The cold version of this dip pairs wonderfully with Taco Stew (see previous blog for recipe).

**To make a HOT version of this dip, layer ingredients into a bake proof dish (except salsa).  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Top with salsa once dip comes out of the oven.**


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weekend Decorating Project: Valentine's Wreath

With Valentine's Day around the corner, I hit Michael's and Dollar Tree yesterday to find inspiration for making a Valentine's wreath for my front door.  I found a wreath at Dollar Tree and decided to wrap it in red feather boas from Michael's.  Here are the items I used:  wreath, two inexpensive boas on "cardboard paddles", two pricier ($6) fluffy boas, shiny metallic hearts on wire, ribbon for my bow and floral wire.

I began by wrapping the wreath with inexpensive boas that were on "cardboard paddles" from Michael's.  I just started out by tying the boas onto the wreath and wrapping them all the way around it.  Then I filled in the blank spaces with two fluffier, prettier boas. Just wrap and wrap and wrap!

In addition, I added red wire with hearts attached after the boas were wrapped.  (These are a little hard to see from this picture, but it adds some shine and sparkle!)  To complete the project, I added a bow to the top!  Easy, fast project that took about 10-15 minutes and the total cost was less than $20.
 Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Feeling Philosophical about Being Happy

Other than a few sags here and there and some wrinkles...I really do appreciate my current age and the wisdom, understanding and peace it has brought me. I understand myself better than ever and can look back on the past and understand the lessons that living my life has taught me.  

My goal now that I am in my 40's is to just BE HAPPY.  Be happy with myself (and what I see in the mirror).  Be happy with my family.  Be happy for good health, good friends and a roof over my head. In my 20's and 30's, most of my life was spent running the hamster wheel.  I look back now and wish I had savored that time.  It went so fast!  However, I don't want to GO BACK either! I want to live in the NOW and keep MOVING forward.  (Literally and figuratively!) 

Now I know that life is a LONG race and it's not just the current "sprint" you are running.  It's a marathon.  Among the most important lessons I have learned and that I hope to convey to my son are: It is OK to be yourself and to do your own thing.  Don't worry about what everyone else is doing.  This is YOUR life and it's for you to LIVE!  Accept yourself as the unique individual that you are.  You are made to be YOU for a reason.  Passing on my own life lessons to my own child is often difficult and I have realized that he has his own "race to run."  After all, I was also someone who had to learn everything by doing it on my own.  (And had to pick the pieces along the way!)

Recently, I watched an Oprah interview with Goldie Hawn and found her words to be really inspirational:  "What matters to me is giving back.  So just because you get older doesn’t mean things stop.  It’s when YOU’s when YOUR wonder’s when YOUR innovation’s when YOUR creativity stop that you allow your SELF to go asunder.  The beauty of getting older is the surprise of what else you can do to make the world a better place with the wisdom you’ve accrued over those years."  Goldie also said that when she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she always said "To Be Happy." She said people always repeated the question expecting her to name a profession, but she persisted in her answer (as her wise parents had told her this was what was most important). 

I want to be just like Goldie when I grow up! Find the little things that make you happy and enjoy them.  Lighting a candle, putting some fresh flowers in my home, walking my dog, drinking peppermint tea and spending time with special people in my life make me happy.  Surround yourself with things and people you find beautiful and inspirational to you.  BE HAPPY!

What things in your life bring you the most joy and happiness?